Can the Government Shutdown Affect Divorce and Custody?

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In this episode, Geoff Carter and Attorney Brad Tengler discuss the affects of the government shut down on divorce and custody.

October 15, 2013

Brad:               Law Talk does not give legal advice. It is a source of information for people suffering the effects of divorce, or who have ended long-term relationships. If you need legal advice, please retain and attorney in your own jurisdiction. Good evening, folks, and welcome to Divorce Talk Radio. This is Attorney Brad Tengler, here is the studio with Geoff Carter. What’s going on Geoff?


Geoff:              Not too much. How you doing?


Brad:               Doing fantastic.


Geoff:              We have a lot to talk about. There’s major things happening for almost with the second week now.


Brad:               Welcome to the government shutdown.


Geoff:              Right. Two weeks of it being shut down. That’s crazy. The longest one that was shut down was in ’95, that was 21 days. Before that, I think it was 12 was the longest one. They say it’s $1.4 billion a day it’s costing the economy.


Brad:               Unbelievable.


Geoff:              I want to talk about some things that it affects. Right now, we know it affects, Social Security office is shut down. It’s been 12 days where you can’t get your Social Security card, or you can’t, what else can’t you do? There’s a bunch of things, but if you’re applying for a house, or starting school again, or a job, a lot of times they want a copy of your Social Security card. If you don’t have one, you’re out of luck, because you can’t get one while the shut down is going on. Plus, you have 800,000 to a million federal workers that are out of the job. What exactly does furlough mean, though? How does that work?


Brad:               Well, I don’t believe they’re getting paid, or they’re receiving IOU’s. So that obviously limits cash flow.


Geoff:              They also have a certain amount of time between now and whenever that they’re going to run out of funds to fund the military, correct? Or something like that? They have a certain amount of money that’s backing them up for now, but eventually they’re not going to be getting paid at all.


Brad:               Quite honestly, I don’t know all the specifics.


Geoff:              Well, right.


Brad:               I know some specific ways in which it can affect people going through divorces.


Geoff:              Right, right. Well that’s what I was going to get at though, because of the military thing. Like I said, there’s a lot that are getting IOU’s and not getting paid at all right now. Anybody that’s in the military that pretty much has a kid, divorced, or has children where they’re paying alimony to, that will obviously affect them.


Brad:               I don’t think, alimony and child support are not affected by this. Those are state programs.


Geoff:              Okay.


Brad:               They’re not affected by the government shutdown because it’s only a federal government shutdown.


Geoff:              But, for those that are making federal money though, and that’s the way they get their money to pay their child support and everything, then where does the money come from while they’re not getting paid, though?


Brad:               Well, they’re not getting their money from the federal government to pay their child support.


Geoff:              Okay.


Brad:               If someone is in, is being paid by the federal government, and they have a child support obligation, then yes.


Geoff:              That’s what I mean.


Brad:               The mothers and fathers who are the custodial parents, where the visiting parent has a child support obligation, they’re not getting paid. They’re going to be held up on getting those payments.


Geoff:              Yeah, great.


Brad:               The visiting parents are still obligated to make those payments. That is true. It will affect cash flow, and people getting paid their child support, in that sense. Not because child support is ordered by the federal government, but because if we’ve got 800,000, what did you say?


Geoff:              800,000 to a million, yeah.


Brad:               People not getting paid, then they’re not going to be able to pay their child support. Until, they get those monies back.


Geoff:              Right. That’s crazy. I’m guessing that some people make enough money to where they have money saved aside, but eventually you’re going to run out.


Brad:               Sure.


Geoff:              It depends, I mean, I hope it doesn’t last any more than it has now, but…


Brad:               And probably many people don’t have money set aside.


Geoff:              Oh, right, right.


Brad:               So.


Geoff:              Yeah. Another thing affected was WIC. A lot of people that have babies, even if you’ve gone through a divorce, or you had a baby with somebody, that’s another thing. Where they get help from WIC, with milk, cheese, formula, and other things, that they’re also affected. Maybe they’re not even getting child support on top of not having any assistance as far as those basic things when you’re first have, I think it’s up to a year and a half, the baby gets WIC, or whatever. That’s not funded either.


Brad:               There are federal welfare programs such as TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and WIC, that are going to be, and are being affected by the shutdown. There are some instances where the state steps in, and makes temporary payments, while the federal government can’t make payments, but it is affecting that. If you’re going through a divorce, and you’re a poor mom that needs financial assistance for food for the children, through WIC, that’s going to hurt you.


Geoff:              What are some things, how does this whole government shutdown affect a divorce, either in process right now, or with child support, right now? What are some things that affects it?


Brad:               It really doesn’t directly affect it, because we’re dealing with the federal government versus the state government. Divorces are governed by state law. Here, in Illinois, governed by state law, and so in a direct way, it doesn’t affect it. In an indirect way, there can be effects on people who are going through divorces when federal programs are not set in place.


Geoff:              Which type of programs you would say?


Brad:               Well, we talked a little bit about child support. Child support is not something that is run by federal law. It’s run by state law.


Geoff:              Okay.


Brad:               Okay. So, child support is not directly affected by the government shutdown, however if you have 800,000 to a million people who are not getting paid, and they need to be paying child support, they’re probably not going to be able to make those payments. Again, we talked a little bit about federal welfare programs. These are federal welfare programs. It’s not directly related to something through divorce, but a lot of times when people are going through divorces, there is an enormous financial strain that’s put on one, or both, of the parties.


Geoff:              Sure.


Brad:               Because, rather than having a combined income, they’re separating their incomes, and in addition, they have their own expenses. If they both have rent payments to make, it limits your ability to pay for other things such as food.


Geoff:              Right.


Brad:               Which is why people need federal assistance through WIC, or TANF, in order to support themselves.


Geoff:              Sure.


Brad:               That’s two ways in which you can be affected. There’s also, it can affect business owners, as well. Business owners going through a divorce.


Geoff:              Why is that?


Brad:               Well, you have a business, and regardless of whether the business was deemed to be marital property, or whether it was deemed to be non-marital property, and owned by one of the parties. Let’s say at the end of divorce, the judge orders that the wife gets the business. Okay? But she has to buy out the husband’s share, all right? She might want to take out a federal loan to buy out his share.


Geoff:              Right.


Brad:               Well, right now, all those loans, those SBA loans are on hold for small business owners.


Geoff:              Along with that, though, even if they were to resolve it today, now they have 12 days of people that have put in for stuff, or whatever, that now, it’s delaying them, too. They’re going to be backed up for a while, basically, whenever this decides to resume.


Brad:               Yeah. All those loan processings are on hold by the federal government, because no one is in the offices to work on them. No one’s getting paid to work on them. They’re on hold right now. Same thing with, say, mortgages.


Geoff:              Right.


Brad:               Classic example, people go through a divorce. They need to refinance their home. That refinance needs to occur so that you can get one of the parties names off the loan.


Geoff:              Sure.


Brad:               They’ve got to apply for the loan. Well, certain federal loans are not being processed right now.


Geoff:              You said the main one, which I had, when I bought my house, was the FHA loan.


Brad:               That’s one of them.


Geoff:              Yeah.


Brad:               Federal housing.


Geoff:              That’s huge.


Brad:               Yeah. Federal Housing Authority loan. That is on hold right now because there are no government workers to work on those loans. I’m sure those applications are just piling up.


Geoff:              Wow.


Brad:               That’s going to affect people going through a divorce.


Geoff:              Majorly, yeah.


Brad:               The access to loan monies, in order to run a business, if you need to do that after your divorce, if you need to refinance your home, that’s going to affect you, too. The IRS, obviously, is still, not obviously, but it is open, still, to take money. But, people who have tax questions, to call the helpline, that’s closed down right now. There’s a limited staff sending back refunds. That might affect people going through a divorce. I know it’s not tax season right now, but the deadline for filing late taxes is October 15.


Geoff:              I’m guessing they could also affect the ones that do come out, in tax season, maybe. I don’t know how much it affects, if it were to resume right now, or not, but I’m thinking that it probably will. Because it pretty much pushes everything back 12 days, or whatever, to get everything filed and figured out. I mean, I hope it doesn’t go more than how long it’s already gone, but what if it were to go two months? Wow.


Brad:               Who knows? Who knows what’s going to happen with what’s going on right now with the federal government. That could happen. Who knows?


Geoff:              It’s scary.


Brad:               These are the specific ways right now that it is affecting people going through divorces. Or, people who need to get child support who are not going through divorces. If federal programs are shut down, there is some indirect effect on people going through the divorce process.


Geoff:              Does anybody ever take out federal loans to maybe pay for an attorney? Is that a dumb question?


Brad:               Well, it’s not a dumb question. I don’t think that’s possible.


Geoff:              Okay.


Brad:               I have never, in my experience, run across people taking out federal loans to pay for their divorce. Perhaps, sometimes, people use loans that were to pay for schooling, like student loans…


Geoff:              Oh.


Brad:               …use that money to pay their attorneys. But, there’s no loan specifically set out to help with paying an attorney. [Inaudible 10:55] yourself, or go to the bank and ask for a personal loan.


Geoff:              Well, Brad, this whole thing, government shutdown, affects a lot of people, and hopefully it gets wrapped up soon. I appreciate the show. I learned a lot.


Brad:               Thanks, Geoff. In a lot of ways, the government shutdown does not affect people going through divorces, but in the few ways it does, and hopefully this gets resolved, shortly.


Geoff:              For those that do have questions about Illinois law, or would like your representation, how do they get ahold of you?


Brad:               We’re located at 515 North Court Street in Rockford, Illinois, and our number is 815-997-5200.


Geoff:              Also, check out Thanks again, Brad.


Brad:               Thanks, Geoff.

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